Better With Popcorn

Flyers / Penguins: Fight For First


The Philadelphia Flyers (45-20-10) are barely hanging on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into tonight's matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins (45-23-8).

If the Pens win in regulation tonight they will tie the Flyers in points with 100, quite an accomplishment for a team who lost their two best players, Malkin and Crosby.

The Flyers blew a huge opportunity when they faced the Caps, Pens, Isles and Bruins in the last week and only managed to beat the Islanders. They would pick up a precious point in both the Caps and Pens games.

Matchup

This will be the sixth and final meeting of the regular season for these clubs.The Flyers lead the season series 3-2 with the Penguins taking the most recent matchup on Thursday, when they beat the Flyers 2-1 in an overtime shootout victory.

In their last ten games the Flyers are 5-1-4 with half of the games being decided in overtime. Four of the five games went into shootouts with the Flyers only winning one, against the Dallas Stars.

The Penguins are 8-2 in their last ten and have managed to stay close to the top of the Eastern Conference standings without their usual weapons. The one weapon they do have would be goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, he is 7-2-1 in his last ten games and has a 2.16 GAA.

He has stood on his head for the Penguin after his rocky start at the beginning of the season and has really stepped up through the team's injury woes. Here are some quotes from coach Dan Bylsma

"A lot of our wins have been not only because of the way he's played but because of the confidence that he's giving our team," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's been outstanding for long periods of time. He's always been the guy to have the dramatic big saves."

"Given our injury situation and given the year that we've had … I think he's our MVP and I think he deserves to be mentioned for League MVP with his play this year."

As like last Thursday's meeting the Flyers will have a tough time finding the back of the net tonight as the Penguins are sixth in the league in goals against, surrendering just 2.37 goals per game.

With Crosby and Malkin out the Flyers have a slightly better power play than the Penguins, connecting at a 16.7% clip while the Penguins are scoring 15.9% of the time.

The Penguins do have a huge advantage on the penalty kill as they are tied for first in the league with Vancouver with an 86.3% kill rate. The Flyers are 12th in the league with an 83.2% kill rate.

Last Matchup Low Lights

Penguins to Watch

Amazingly Sidney Crosby still leads the Penguins in points with 66 and goals with 32. He is followed by defenseman Kris Letang who has 48 points and leads the team in assists with 40.

Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Tyler Kennedy are the closest to Crosby in goals with 22,22, and 18 respectively.

Of course as always you can not take your eye off Alexei Kovalev who has 30 points 15g 15a.

Larry's Logic

The Flyers will have to dig deep tonight to try and solve Marc-Andre Fleury as one goal will not cut it tonight. With Fleury being on a hot streak right now and the Flyers struggling to score this could be another one of those frustrating games for the fans.

With all that is at stake tonight one would hope the Flyers will wake up now and get back to playing Flyers hockey. It is not going to be a successful playoffs if the Flyers end the season playing the way they are right now.

There are just too many turnovers in their own zone and at times look like they don't have the drive to get the puck back. One simple way of gaining respect in your own zone is to take the body.

That means everyone on the ice not just the defensemen (Meszaros) who seems to be the only one hitting. No opposing player has to pay that price to posses the puck in the Flyers zone. That mentality needs to travel to the offensive zone also.

The Flyers started the season with a relentless offensive forecheck which made them seem unstoppable.

Where did all that effort go ? How did they forget how to Play ? And can they be that team again in the playoffs ?

Fans that are waiting for this team to turn on the light switch in time for the playoffs maybe watching the first round in the dark if this team does not wake up soon.

Step Up Players

Briere
Carle
Richards

Twitter/@Wrecktangled